Gynecologic Cancers

Here is a brief overview of the main types of gynecologic cancer:

Ovarian cancer: Usually begins on the surface of the ovaries, in epithelial cells. OC is the seventh most common type of cancer among women. Risk factors include family history, childlessness, and menopause. Symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and/or urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). There is no highly effective screening method to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages.

Cervical cancer: Begins in the cervix, which is the part of the uterus that opens to the vagina. Risk factors include HPV, smoking, and sexual intercourse early in life. Detection and prevention is through routine pelvic exams and Pap tests. Symptoms include bleeding after intercourse, excessive discharge and abnormal bleeding between periods.

Uterine or Endometrial cancer: This is cancer of the uterine lining, which usually begins as atypical cells in the endometrium that multiply out of control. Risk factors include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, childlessness, and use of estrogen without progesterone. Symptoms of endometrial cancer might include bleeding after menopause, or irregular or heavy bleeding in younger women. Women who experience these symptoms should have an endometrial biopsy to screen for cancer.

Vaginal cancer: Originates in the vagina, usually in the epithelial cells of the lining. Risk factors include HPV, smoking, and age (60 and older). Vaginal cancer is very rare. Vaginal cancer is often asymptomatic in its early stages. In later stages, it might cause bleeding, pain, or problems with urination or bowel movements.

Vulvar cancer: Forms in the skin of the external parts of female genitalia. Risk factors include HPV and chronic irritation of the vulva. Vulvar cancer may appear as a lump or ulcer in the genital area. Such changes should be biopsied to screen for cancer. Other symptoms might include itching, burning, bleeding ,or pain in the vulva.

Fallopian tube cancer: Very rarely, cancer can develop in a fallopian tube. Symptoms and treatment are similar to ovarian cancer.

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: Gynecologic Cancers


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